Love Lies Sleeping – Elizabeth Bishop

Earliest morning, switching all the tracks

that cross the sky from cinder star to star,

coupling the ends of streets 

to trains of light.
now draw us into daylight in our beds;

and clear away what presses on the brain:

put out the neon shapes 

that float and swell and glare
down the gray avenue between the eyes

in pinks and yellows, letters and twitching signs.

Hang-over moons, wane, wane!

From the window I see
an immense city, carefully revealed,

made delicate by over-workmanship,

detail upon detail,

cornice upon facade,
reaching up so languidly up into

a weak white sky, it seems to waver there.

(Where it has slowly grown

in skies of water-glass
from fused beads of iron and copper crystals,

the little chemical “garden” in a jar

trembles and stands again,

pale blue, blue-green, and brick.)
The sparrows hurriedly begin their play.

Then, in the West, “Boom!” and a cloud of smoke.

“Boom!” and the exploding ball

of blossom blooms again.
(And all the employees who work in a plants 

where such a sound says “Danger,” or once said “Death,”

turn in their sleep and feel

the short hairs bristling
on backs of necks.) The cloud of smoke moves off.

A shirt is taken of a threadlike clothes-line.

Along the street below

the water-wagon comes
throwing its hissing, snowy fan across

peelings and newspapers. The water dries

light-dry, dark-wet, the pattern

of the cool watermelon.
I hear the day-springs of the morning strike

from stony walls and halls and iron beds,

scattered or grouped cascades, 

alarms for the expected:
queer cupids of all persons getting up,

whose evening meal they will prepare all day,

you will dine well

on his heart, on his, and his,
so send them about your business affectionately,

dragging in the streets their unique loves.

Scourge them with roses only,

be light as helium,
for always to one, or several, morning comes

whose head has fallen over the edge of his bed,

whose face is turned

so that the image of
the city grows down into his open eyes

inverted and distorted. No. I mean

distorted and revealed,

if he sees it at all. 

Little Exercise – Elizabeth Bishop

Think of the storm roaming the sky uneasily

like a dog looking for a place to sleep in,

listen to it growling. 
Think how they must look now, the mangrove keys

lying out there unresponsive to the lightning

in dark, coarse-fibred families, 
where occasionally a heron may undo his head,

shake up his feathers, make an uncertain comment

when the surrounding water shines. 
Think of the boulevard and the little palm trees

all stuck in rows, suddenly revealed

as fistfuls of limp fish-skeletons. 
It is raining there. The boulevard

and its broken sidewalks with weeds in every crack,

are relieved to be wet, the sea to be freshened. 
Now the storm goes away again in a series

of small, badly lit battle-scenes,

each in “Another part of the field.” 
Think of someone sleeping in the bottom of a row-boat

tied to a mangrove root or the pile of a bridge;

think of him as uninjured, barely disturbed.